JOHNSON CITY — Lyndon B. Johnson High School graduating seniors Hailey Bickley and Alexis McDougal are the first recipients of the Science Mill’s new student-employee scholarship program.
They were each awarded a $500 scholarship to be used toward their post-secondary education as a reward for their outstanding work at the museum.
Science Mill co-founder Bonnie Baskin said the Science Mill not only inspires students who visit the museum to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), it also influences the high school students who work at the museum.
“One of the first students we hired decided to study forensics because of his experience at the Science Mill,” she said. “To encourage more of our student-employees to pursue careers in STEM, we launched a scholarship program for them this spring.”
Bickley, who started at the Science Museum last June, said her work experience in the BioLab has her thinking about a possible future in marine biology.
“It’s my favorite place to be at the Science Mill,” she said. “I was so excited to see Xotica, one of our axolotls, lay eggs on Mother’s Day. It was a first, as the axolotls have been laying eggs when no one’s around.”
An axolotl is an amphibian known colloquially as a “walking fish.”
The Science Mill has also expanded Bickley’s geographic horizons.
“People from all over the world visit the Science Mill,” she said. “That’s been a big cultural splash for me, having grown up in Johnson City.”
She added that it’s fascinating to hear her explanations translated into different languages by visitors to their family members.
McDougal, who also received a scholarship, said she applied for a job last fall at the Science Mill because she likes working with children. As one of the museum “Explainers,” her role has been to answer questions about the 50-plus exhibits and sometimes give museum tours.
She said her favorite thing about working at the museum has been learning lots of new things and teaching them to other people.
“I would encourage other students to work at the Science Mill,” McDougal said. “Not only have I learned a lot of information, I’ve learned good customer service skills.”
McDougal said she’ll miss the friendly staff and the museum environment when she leaves for college. “Working at the Science Mill has been a great experience for me, and I’m sad that my time there will be coming to an end shortly,” she said.
To learn more about Science Mill student-employee or scholarship opportunities, contact Holly Barton, director of Operations, at (844) 263-6405 ext. 1002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Science Mill is located at 101 S. Ladybird Lane.